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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Medications Effects on Attention Problems

03/16/1998

Question:

How exactly does the medication (any) help someone's attention problem?

Answer:

There are a variety of medicines useful in treating ADHD. The most commonly prescribed are the stimulants. These and all other types of medicines used to treat ADHD affect the neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that help brain cells "talk" to each other and to other parts of the body. In ADHD, these chemical messages affect the glucose metabolism in various areas of the brain to help improve inattention, primarily and to some extent impulsivity and hyperactivity. The primary neurotransmitter thought to be altered in ADHD is dopamine. Stimulants and other medicines such as some of the antidepressants can help correct dopamine levels. Some of these medicines also affect other neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and serotonin. This can be helpful if other co-existing conditions such as depression or obsessive compulsive disorder need to be treated in addition to the ADHD.

Related Resources:

ADDNet in the UK

For more information:

Go to the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Margaret C Sweeney, MD
Formerly, Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati